Bob here.  I asked Hasan (an intern here) to take a look at Windows 8.1, code-named “Blue.”  I thought his thoughts made for a great blog article.  Enjoy!

My name is Hasan Mutlu and I’m a senior at Hudson high school. Using technology and becoming part of that world is exciting and as I intern at Simplex-IT for the summer, I gain experience with technology. Bob had me play around with a Windows 8.1 device and I’m writing to tell you my opinion on it and whether or not I believe it’s worth downloading.

I have played around with Windows 8.1, also known as Windows Blue and there are a few things I’ve noticed that I would like to tell you about. The device I used Windows 8.1 on was a touchscreen tablet that was running on an i5 processor along with 4 gigs of RAM. It was my first time using Windows 8 in a touchscreen environment as I had always used it on a non-touchscreen laptop. There are some good, and some bad changes made to Windows 8.

First off, I’d like to state the new addition or change that was made, then secondly, my opinion on it.

  • Lock Screen Slideshow feature: It’s pretty self-explanatory. You can now have a slideshow of pictures shuffling in the lock screen. The settings to this are easily accessible, and allow you to choose which folder of pictures you want the lock screen to filter through. It allows you to choose settings according to whether or not it is plugged in or running solely on the battery
  • Start Screen:
    • The start screen (see pic below) allows you to change the colors and backgrounds. You can choose from the many presets or to make it the same as your desktop background. You also have the option to choose a color theme and an accent color
    • Additionally, different tile sizes were added, mainly giving you the option of two new sizes, which are a big block, considered “large” and an even smaller size called “small”. The standard size of a tile is either “wide” or “medium”. Large is roughly twice the size of a “wide” block and four times the size of a “medium” block. I probably wouldn’t make any blocks “large” simply because it would be taking up more space than it would need. It is nice to have the option to do so though
    • The button to see all your apps on one page was replaced with a motion. You swipe up from the bottom and you’re taken to a screen with all your apps. Here you can sort them by name, most used, date installed or by category
    • 50-50 split: This allows you to actively view and interact with two apps at once. Although this is a nice addition, the option to have the original 80-20 split is now not available. This means that if you had wanted to listen to music and have a small snippet of what you were listening to open on the side, you can’t do that anymore. You would need to allow the music app half of a page although you aren’t actively using it
    • App Switcher: Although no changes were made to the app switcher, I’ve noticed that to close all the apps, you need to slide and close them individually, one by one. This is the same on both versions of Windows 8, but a button to close all the active apps would be convenient
    • Aggregated Search: My most favorite feature, aggregated search, makes it easier to search the internet for something. From the search bar that comes up in the charm menu, you can search anything and it will show you results from your device and from the internet. This makes it easier to find things because of the beautiful layout that is presented. If you would like, you can also limit where you want to search, such as files on the device, etc.
    • 3D printing: Although I have very little knowledge about 3D printing, I have learned that Windows 8.1 now supports it

Example of new Windows ScreensAs I have said beforehand, this is my first time using a touch screen Windows 8 device and these are only my opinions on the new changes that Windows 8.1 brings. Overall, the tie breaker for me comes in the 50-50 or 80-20 app split. If Blue doesn’t bring this in the released version, then I may consider keeping my current version. Lastly, another change I would’ve like seeing would be able to use apps on both screens when an extended screen is connected. Microsoft should’ve put more work into Windows blue.